Jonathan Cheng and Brendan Intindola report for The Wall Street Journal:
For all the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, earnings are on track to post a 6.6% year-on-year rise in the fourth quarter. Once Apple's earnings are factored out, the expected fourth-quarter gain shrivels to just 2.8%, according to UBS.
In short, due to Apple's collossal success, analysts are being forced to exclude the Cupertino giant from their reports so as to gain an accurate view of the entire marketplace. When focusing purely on the technology sector, Apple's footprint is unsurprisingly more significant:
David Kostin, chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, forecasts that the technology sector will increase its earnings by 21% in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier. But that would shrink to roughly 5% once Apple is factored out.
Although the exclusion of Apple from such reports is performed with the goal of gaining increased perspective, I would argue it is the initial exclusion that is of the most significance.